First Appellate District Rules CEQA's One-Year Rule for Certifying an EIR not Mandatory
On December 2, the First Appellate District issued an important decision in Schellinger Brothers v. City of Sebastopol rejecting a developer’s ability to challenge a lead agency’s decision to continue processing an environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), even after the expiration of the one-year period for certification of an EIR set forth in CEQA section 21151.5.
The City of
The Court rejected Schellinger Brothers’ arguments for several reasons. First, the Court noted that Sunset Drive was decided under traditional mandamus and simply held that CEQA required that a lead agency must exercise its discretion in some fashion. Here, Schellinger Brothers sued under administrative mandamus challenging the particular exercise of discretion by the City. The Court held that there is no authority allowing the Court to examine the particular exercise of discretion by a lead agency in the CEQA process. Similarly, the Court found that CEQA actually prohibits courts from dictating to lead agencies that the lead agency exercise discretion in any particular way. Second, the Court distinguished Sunset Drive on the facts, again noting that there the City of
In other parts of the opinion, the Court reiterated long standing authority that CEQA contains no “deemed approved” clause. The Court also held that the Housing Accountability Act (Gov’t Code, § 65589.5) could not be construed to read a “deemed approved” clause into CEQA or otherwise modify any of the provisions of CEQA.
Meyers Nave's land use and CEQA attorneys, Julia Bond, Steve Mattas, Tim Cremin and Ed Grutzmacher, represented the City of Sebastopol in both the public hearing process and the litigation. For questions regarding the impact this decision may have on your city or any other CEQA issues, contact Julia Bond or Ed Grutzmacher.